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Changing all blood to Type ‘O’
By Jerry Brownstein
Researchers from the University of British Columbia (Canada) have figured out how to convert blood types A, B and AB into the universal donor Type O, which all patients can receive in a transfusion regardless of their own blood type. It had been previously known that enzymes can convert A and B type red blood cells into O type, but the enzymes available had not worked well. That was until scientists considered looking inside the human gut.
“The human gut is covered with large glycoproteins that have blood group antigens on their surface,” said Peter Rahfeld, head of the research team. Using a technique called functional metagenomics, they were able to isolate the enzymes that efficiently strip sugars from blood cells. Removing the sugar antigens from A, B and AB blood cells allows them to be converted into Type O. This discovery could revolutionize the process of blood donation, as all blood could be turned into Type ‘O’ and thus useful for all transfusions.